Champs Telkom seek to recapture Africa trophy: USIU-A Spartans set to make their maiden appearance
Telkom seek to recapture Africa title
Nine-time continental champions relinquished their crown to Ghana Revenue Authority after winning five back-to-back titles.
Telkom coach Jos Openda is a man on a mission to regain control of Africa women’s club hockey.
The two-time Safaricom Sports Personality of the Year Awards (SOYA) winner has his eyes set on regaining continental dominance.
Openda, Kenya’s most accomplished hockey coach, is determined to reclaim the African gong at this year’s Africa Cup of Club Championships (ACCC) set for December 17 to 24 in Abuja, Nigeria.
“Our hearts are set on salvaging our continental dominance and we have been working very hard to ensure we are ready for the challenge," Openda said.
"The girls are dedicated to this course because we don’t want to suffer more heartbreak."
Telkom’s continental reign at the helm of women’s continental club hockey was disrupted by bitter rivals Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) early this year in Accra Ghana, following a 1-0 loss.
The Kenyan girls had ruled the continent for five years since 2012 when they won in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.
They went ahead to stage brilliant performances with four successful defences in 2013 (Kampala, Uganda), 2014 (Bulawayo), 2015 (Lusaka, Zambia) and won the 2016 title at City Park, Nairobi.
Openda added that their preparations are on the right track and are currently at 50 percent of what they need to accomplish ahead of the continental showdown.
“We are doing well in training and we are currently at half of where we would want to be. My aim is to hit 90 before we travel then aim to hit the peak in Abuja.
"We are improving in all aspects of the game and we are also training to enhance our fitness levels as well as endurance.”
He added that he has also told his forwards to sharpen their skills as it was their major undoing during the last contest.
“Our finishing was bluntly poor because despite getting four clear chances in the final, we failed to utilise them and were severely punished because our opponents got two and they made one count and won the title.”
He said they are under no pressure from any of their opponents including the experienced Ghanaian players, who took part in this year’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
“After we lost, focus shifted from us to the winners. We will not be under any pressure from our opponents. This will give us a chance to concentrate on our campaign. Gold Coast was a perfect exposure opportunity but we will not be intimidated,” Openda said.
Also seeking to impressive in Abuja will be debutants United States International University of Africa (USIU-A) Spartans.
The students will be seeking to make a memorable debut in the women’s title hunt.
Last season, men’s Premier League champions Kenya Police and Butali Sugar Warriors qualified to represent Kenya in the championships.
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